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I have dreams about being really smart

  1. Apr 28, 2012 #1
    Lately I've been watching the big bang theory and I've started having dreams of being really clever. The truth is I'm a university student studying computer science and I'm about average or slightly below average, it takes me a little longer than other to understand the subject we are learning.

    Part of me wishes I had the mental capability to learn physics, chemistry or advanced maths. I find chemistry and physics extremely interesting but I know I'd never be able to learn it as I can't even do simple algebra.... My brain isn't capable of grasping these concepts.

    I know I'll never be smart but it's so depressing, I'd love to be able to show people I'm really intelligent and be able to help other people... but as it stands it's me who is always asking for help.

    I guess what I'm really saying is do you think each individual person has a limit to how smart they can become? There's a reason some people are born geniuses, others average and others below average and it isn't just because they listened in class. I believe it's something in your genes that determines how smart one will become.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 28, 2012 #2
    The good news is: yes there's a way to become really smart and good at things!!

    You just have to buy some books, study them carefully and make all the exercises. Devote much of your time and make a huge effort. In the end, you'll be much smarter.
  4. Apr 28, 2012 #3
    Around 2 or so years ago I knew almost nothing about high school pre-calculus and my algebra was a joke. In fact, I barely passed algebra.

    Now I'm self studying differential equations. And I can self-study physics whereas others might need things to get it spelled out for them in a lecture. In addition, I can solve a big portion of the problem by just closing my eyes and letting my intuition do the work. In contrast, I understood next to nothing in high-school physics.

    I don't say this to brag, but to highlight the following question.. How much of it is nurture and how much genetic?

    Echoing what micromass said, your brain is an incredibly malleable piece of hunk. Bend it and shape it to your will. The beginning effort to shape it is always the hardest, so don't be discouraged. Perseverance goes a long way, the only obstacle in your way is time. How much are you willing to invest in what you love?
  5. Apr 29, 2012 #4
    So if it isn't genetics then how comes great scientists and mathematicians are so few and far between?

    People like Kim Ung-yong for example.... at 5 years old he is solving complex differential and integral calculus. This must be genes.

    And savants too, no matter how much one tries to improve your memory, it's impossible to remember things as well as a savant.
  6. Apr 30, 2012 #5


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    Study is important, but also get out and explore things and interact in different facets of society and the world/universe. Having new sensory experiences can expand semantic and somatic memory; a lot of our abstract thinking is derived from spatial metaphor, which is informed by sensory experience.
  7. Apr 30, 2012 #6
    I am very smart. My father was smart. My uncle is too smart.
    However, I am lazy. then I am nothing! :)
  8. May 1, 2012 #7
    In general heritability of cognitive traits averages out to be about 50%, though there are strong variations. Being successful in science is more about curiosity, passion, thinking outside the box, and painstaking research then I.Q. Take Richard Feynman and Issac Asimov for example - Feynman had an I.Q. of 125 and turned out to be one of the most esteemed physicists of the 20th century, while Asimov had an I.Q. of 158 and primarily wrote science fiction.

    It seems like you want to be smart for the effect of how people perceive you which is no way to do it.

    Heres a good quote for you: “My intellectual development was retarded, as a result of which I began to wonder about space and time only when I had already grown up.” - Albert Einstein
  9. May 1, 2012 #8
    Genetics definitely plays a role, no doubt about that. In fact, if the right amount of genetics mixes in with the right amount of social factors.. you can fill in the rest. But that is not for you to worry about. What you are to worry about, however, is if you are playing to your full potential or not. Most are not, whether they are genetically gifted or "average". Don't forget that creativity, drive, and passion plays a much bigger role than being simply at a genetic advantage. Take for example, Kim Ung-yong with an IQ of 210 and Richard Feynman with an IQ of 120. It is what you do with your time and how you contribute that earns you the title of genius.

    What you should worry about now is how much drive and passion you have towards something. That is the factor that will distinguish you from the rest.

    Your brain is extremely malleable as long as you hammer it enough. Hard work and determination will pay off. I wasn't able to learn algebra either, but here I am. I hope you consider how far I've went, because if you don't then you will always carry a defeatist mentality-- which, with absolute certainty, will leave you unable to learn subjects such as math, physics, and chemistry.
  10. May 1, 2012 #9
    Those are very interesting statements. Can you please supply a couple of links so I can read a bit more about it?
  11. May 2, 2012 #10


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    On iPhone so linking is tough, but it's the basis of Children's Museums, so the CM association will have some educational links I'm sure.

    Pediatricians also suggest as much outside time as possible for childrens developing brains.
  12. May 15, 2012 #11
    Sorry for bumping this article and expressing a more social rather than scientific thought.

    "I Hate it when people compare anyone with one another. An ideal comparison is not at all possible in this world.Specially when it comes to humane."

    Btw ,Its not the level of intellect that really matters.Its your contribution to the society that actually matters and counts.And for that you need not to be necessarily intelligent enough(IQ).

    The way you are thinking about yourself , will probably lead to a massive decline in your self confidence , and may detoriate the condition. So stop thinking that you are a under average or whatever.

    Focus and do things that interest you , and not which are a burden for you. You may find people way better than yourself in your interested field , but this is not because they are super intelligent but becuase they are more interested than you and have put some serious efforts into it.Its also the method of learning which helps.

    Some people who are acutally termed "genius" and blessed , might be bad at something at which a normal person will be good at.

    Its all about how much time you devote to your interest and how thoroughly are you putting your efforts into it.

    Everyone is born with a unique brain and a body , but the ability largely depends on how you feed the brain and develop and shape it. The society and upbringing has a major role to play in it.
    Nobody lives a life similiar to other , so its common sense that their brain ability will differ.

    Millions of things affect brain capability , and the genes is just one of the those many factors impacting brain growth......so if you study hard , that ain't gonna stop you really.

    Excuse me , if you find my words confusing.I am having a disorder of putting things in incorrect pattern.(Mental chaos , probably- happens a lot when you think too much and have obssesive thoughts).
    Even I am a teenager (19) and I find live at this stage really confusing.
  13. May 15, 2012 #12
    I second what rishi said, if I had a passive mindset of my potential, I would have still complained about algebra till this day and taken some non-mathematical route.

    Is your statement about a disorder meant to be metaphorical? I'm a non-linear thinker as well but I don't think it necessarily means you have a disorder.
  14. May 15, 2012 #13


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    My father went off in the Airborne to fight WWII when he was a kid. When I was a very young kid, he took correspondence courses to learn geometry so that he could advance as a sheet-metal mechanic and move beyond simple layout formulas and design his own parts. Sometimes "really smart" can be be "really dedicated". There is not a lot of "smart" (exclusionary) like that in the world. Look closer to home.
  15. May 15, 2012 #14
    Yes , its meant to be metaphorical till now. I hope it doesn't turns real (depression really takes its toll though ) since , I need concentrated thinking as I am a computer Programmer.

    I have concentration difficulties ever since beginning , but I always used to outperform many classmates and people in study , due to my interest. When I lost interest into it , things went bizarre for me. :(
  16. May 15, 2012 #15


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    Don't make it such a competition, please. That will take the focus off your core studies and will make it tough to keep your head up as you compare your performance to those of your classmates. Do your best, keep your head clear, and you'll be fine. Life is not a race!!!
  17. May 15, 2012 #16
    Thats what happened to me. When people started scoring better , I lost my interest and went into depression. Though it was an year ago.I am trying to be better now.

    Anyways these days I am more into pursuing my interest , I have already suffered it once.Competition can be fatal sometimes.
  18. May 15, 2012 #17


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    Competition is OK in moderation. Please don't let it sink your studies. That kind of single-mindedness can wreck your academic career.
  19. May 16, 2012 #18
    Thanks for the help. Yeah I guess I'll focus more on my strong points which I'm yet to find what I'm good at, but hopefully at some point in my uni course I'll find a topic that I generally, really have a passion for and do really well at it

    Thanks all :)
  20. May 21, 2012 #19
    All I can say now is, studying is a good way to hone your skills for a particular subject and help yourself become knowledgeable of that subject. However, that won't make you smart. It would make you intelligent within the field, but in terms of being quick of thought connecting more dots and being able to see bigger pictures from what you do know by experience, that happens to be intertwined with creativity and the aspect of being smart. If you aren't smart now within the subject with the little you do know, I doubt you'd be "smart" with experience. And, I use "smart" as a comparison with people in the same field, but then again, I'd be unwise to say that is your fate so to speak, because your brain operates differently in that what you see one may have never thought of and that comes from life experiences. So I am speaking more generally and keeping with everything basically operating at a, what I'd consider, balanced, and uniformly equal pace.

    However that doesn't mean there are better talents to be had with being rather slow in the subject and digesting the information as our brains operate a bit differently. And, intelligence like music, needs to be molded and practiced with. Sure, your genes and experience help, but these go hand in hand, they don't operate separately of one another.

    People like to bring up Feynman as a good example, but Feynman learned his craft in his way. The I.Q. test essentially was useless because like a great composer, his intelligence was melded partly with life experience and genetics, thus giving him his often seen gifted ability for physics and mathematics. So does this come from genetics or experience? I say both, does a good runner obtain such gifts from genetics or practice, does genetics or practice make for a good composer, does genetics or practice make for a good physicist?
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